Sportsbet bets big on talent to stay ahead of customer expectations
SPORTSBET calls itself a “pure-play digital organization”. As a result, the company finds itself constantly pushing boundaries when it comes to delivering on customer expectations — regardless of platform or sport.
Sportsbet CIO Simon Noonan finds this to be an exciting challenge, especially given the fast-paced growth that the company enjoys.
In 2014, the company had just over 550,000 customers and 50 percent of its traffic was via desktop and the remaining 50 percent was via mobile. Fast forward to today, Sportsbet has over 1.2 million customers, of which more than 85 percent use their mobiles to interact with the company.
“One of our biggest challenges has been scaling the business quickly and transforming the business at the same time,” Noonan told Tech Wire Asia when IDC shortlisted the company as a finalist in the ‘Information Visionary’ category for its Digital Transformation Awards in Australia and New Zealand.
To keep up with customers, Sportsbet’s doubled the size of its technology team.
“The technology team at Sportsbet has transformed from being a department focused on IT operations and infrastructure to a team which is customer-focused and a leader in digital and software engineering. It’s now critical to the success of Sportsbet.”
According to Noonan, the team has delivered some challenging projects and an improved user experience over the past year, including personalization of the content and information for customers, to creating new market-leading e-commerce channels, to moving its core platforms to the cloud.
“These projects have used some of the latest techniques and technologies in engineering, UX/UI, data and cloud technologies. This has pushed the boundaries of our teams and given them great opportunities to learn and grow.”
Speaking of teams and opportunities, Noonan touches upon an important point — training, development, and support of internal talent.
Why and how Sportsbet invests in its talent
Noonan said that Sportsbet recognizes that it needs to provide its technology team with a safe environment to learn, experiment, and even make some mistakes.
“We’re constantly thinking about the future and the skills we require to continue to grow and scale. We recognize that our people are critical to our success, so development and providing them with opportunities to stretch and grow is always front of mind.”
According to the CIO, moving to the cloud has been a key part of its digital transformation since last year.
“In 2018, we recognized that we needed to move away from physical infrastructure (data centers) and move into the cloud, so we launched our Cloud Academy”
The online company collaborated with its cloud vendor to establish a digital learning management system where the team could find all the training it needed. The intent was to give staff access to a learning environment where they could gain different skills and grow and evolve with the company.
Sportsbet is owned by Flutter Entertainment — which means the company’s 300 technology professionals also have the opportunity to learn from technologists working for other brands owned by the holding company — 2,000 of them.
Noonan believes that the company’s talent is what drives the company forward and allows them to use digital tools to delight customers and meet expectations — but the leadership team deserves credit too.
“The Sportsbet leadership team is naturally digital-first and is constantly abreast of the latest developments and innovations in e-commerce through study trips to the US where they gain insights and ideas from leading digital organizations.
“The leadership is also invested in learning how organizations think about product development and creating a high-performing culture.”
Sportsbet’s core value: Customers first and last
“We consider what’s relevant to Sportsbet and how we can evolve our organization and adapt our culture to provide our customers and people the best experience.”
Noonan told Tech Wire Asia that the company has been obsessed with customers, which seems to have served them well when implementing new digital transformation projects.
“Our projects are always measured with the customer in mind, in line with our value of ‘customer first and last’ but we’re also adequately paranoid, and we critically critique all our projects with our ‘reflect, learn, and improve’ mindset,” said the CIO.
Sportsbet shared some of the metrics against which digital projects are measured — and customers do seem to be at the center of it all.
Two metrics in particular, that Noonan explained, make it apparent why the company was shortlisted by IDC for the widely-respected award:
“We measure the number of sessions to transactions and propensity to contact (call/chat). Many sessions before a transaction indicates that the user journey is not easy or intuitive. Similarly, if a customer needs to contact us, it means we’ve failed in providing an easy and intuitive self-service experience.”
Overall, Noonan said he was delighted to hear from IDC as making it to the shortlist is recognition of his team’s ability to innovate, reflect, learn, and improve.
In the future, Sportsbet expects to continue improving the digital experience it provides and hopes to deliver on customer expectations every single time. Given the training and support Noonan and the company provide to staff who are keen to innovate, the odds are definitely in their favor.
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